BY MICHAEL MILLER
New Yorkers are no strangers to the frigid temperatures, lake-effect storms and walloping Nor’easters that define winter here in the Empire State. Whether upstate or downstate, we aren’t fazed by slush-covered streets and subway entrances or the occasional moose crossing on a county road.
For new residents, that first winter can certainly be a rude awakening. But once the snow begins to thaw in March – or April, let’s be honest – braving the cold weather will begin to seem more like a badge of honor. New Yorkers are tough, but the reality is that many families need a little assistance to stay warm during the winter months. That’s where resources like the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) come in.
HEAP is a federally funded program that helps renters and homeowners keep their homes warm by covering the costs of electricity, wood, kerosene, coal, oil, propane, natural gas or other heating fuels. The program also offers funds to eligible families for any repairs and necessary home-heating equipment.
The application for regular HEAP benefits is now open. Eligibility for the program is based on income, household size, primary heating source and whether a member of the household is under the age of 6, over the age of 60 or permanently disabled, with applications for assistance accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
This year, a family of four that has a household income of up to $4,797 a month may qualify for help and each household can receive up to $726 in assistance. Applications for an extra emergency benefit open on Jan. 2, 2020, and are available to households that are in danger of having their service shut off or have run out of fuel.
As energy costs rise, heating can become a burden for families with low or fixed incomes. For those facing extreme temperatures, that could mean dire consequences. HEAP is a necessary resource for low-income families and senior citizens who rely on the assistance to keep them warm during these cold winter months.
In the Assembly, I’ll continue fighting to make life more affordable for New Yorkers so that no one is forced to go without life’s necessities. To learn more or to apply for HEAP, you can visit www.mybenefits.ny.gov. For more information regarding HEAP benefits in New York City, visit www.nyc.gov/html/hra/html/services/energy.shtml or call 1-800-692-0557.
As your Assemblyman, your health and safety is important to me. I encourage anyone who needs assistance to apply for HEAP. As always, please feel free to contact me with questions about this or any community issue at 718-805-0950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Miller represents the 38th district in the New York State Assembly.